October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and most people affected by breast cancer are women, most of whom are in their 40s and 50s. However, a percentage of the male population is affected. Yes, you read correctly, men are affected too. Men have breast tissue that can develop breast cancer later on. Breast cancer is diagnosed when breast cells begin to grow uncontrollably, and these cells form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is considered malignant if the cells can grow to invade surrounding tissue or spread to distant areas of the body.
In humans, breast cancer is detected as a hard lump under the nipple and areola. Please note that men have a higher mortality rate than women, as sensitization is less likely because the lump in the breast is sometimes ignored, resulting in a delay in treatment. It may come from another part of the breast. Most men in their fifties are affected by breast cancer.
Where does it start?
Most breast cancers start in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple, and some start in the glands that produce breast milk. Yes, men also have these ducts and glands, even though they are usually not functional. There are types of breast cancer that start in other cells in the breast. However, they are less common. These cancer cells are sarcomas and lymphomas, which are not considered breast cancers. Remember that most breast tumours are benign and not cancerous. Benign tumours are abnormal growths, but they do not spread outside the breast and are not life-threatening.
Detecting breast cancer in men
Knowledge and awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer are valuable in ensuring the earliest possible detection and treatment of men with breast cancer. Here are some of the symptoms associated with breast cancer.
Painless development of a lump or thickening of the breast
Scaling and redness of the nipple and surrounding area
Indentation or retraction in the nipple area
Blood or clear discharge from the nipple
Several factors increase the risk of breast cancer in men. Some of them, such as genetics and age, are out of control. However, some risk factors such as a poor diet, alcohol consumption and smoking can be controlled, so it is better to learn what we should avoid. Below is a list of risk factors for breast cancer in men.
- The average age of diagnosis of breast cancer in men is sixty-seven years, and breast cancer is common in men between sixty and seventy years of age.
- One in five men with breast cancer has a female relative who also has breast cancer.
- People who have undergone prior radiation treatment to their breasts are more likely to have breast cancer.
- About five to ten percent of male breast cancers are hereditary. Genetic defects in the CHEK-2, p53 tumour suppressor, BRCA2 and BRCA1 genes increase a person’s risk of cancer. These genes generally help prevent cancer by preventing cells from developing abnormally.
- People with a history of Klinefelter’s syndrome, a birth defect in which men have an extra X chromosome, which causes a decrease in male hormone levels and an increase in female hormones.
- People who have taken estrogen-based drugs have a higher risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer cells are known to have estrogen receptors, which improve the ability of the cancer to progress.
- People who have had liver disease are also at risk because the body’s estrogen activity increases. In contrast, androgenic activity decreases when a person has liver disease, such as cirrhosis.
- Obese people may also be at risk of human breast cancer because of the increased number of fat cells. Fat cells produce estrogen from androgens, which increases the concentration of estrogen in the body.
- Excessive alcohol consumption promotes breast cancer in men, mainly because alcohol consumption increases liver disease and fat accumulation.
Treatment Options for Male Breast Cancer
There are several treatment methods for men with breast cancer. These methods do not differ from those used for women. Cancer staging is performed to determine the best breast cancer treatment option for a patient. Here are some of the treatment options available.